Invictus by: Ryan Graudin

Summary:

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

The Review:

This book had me at “the crew of Firfely entering the TARDIS” and it really felt like that throughout the story. Earlier this year I read Ryan Graudin’s Wolf-by-Wolf, which is an alternative take of WWII. This deals with the concept of time-travel, with a lot of wibley-woobly timey wimey stuff.

Farway, or Far, is someone who was born “outside of time”, in which he was born within a time stream and doesn’t have a specific birthday, this was mainly due to his mother having a relationship with a Roman gladiator in 95 AD, she gave birth outside of time and defying the laws of nature. Years later he is pursuing a career in time travel, but during his final exam, it gets hacked and he fails the exam and expelled for the Academy.

Far is a great main character. He sort of had a Malcolm Reynolds vibe to him, throughout the story, and always wanted to get the job done. He also cares a lot about his crew on the Invictus, but he also deals with the fact that his mother disappeared on her own time travel mission on the Ab Aeterno.

The crew of the Invictus all have very distinct personalities which reminded me a lot of Firefly. Priya, who is Far’s girlfriend acts as the ships doctor. The relationship between Priya and Far was extremely well done and you can tell from the text that they actually care about each other. She is also fully fleshed out, and has her character fully realized through a few flashbacks of her time in the Academy.

There is also Imogen, Far’s cousin. She also puts together a lot of the “captains’s log” throughout the story, and a lot of the “captains log” are very humorous. She also has a good relationship with Far and also acts as his confidant.  Throughout the story she also has a crush on Gram, the ships pilot, and it always seems funny how she tries not to act of her crush even though people know about it. While I did like the character Gram, I thought he could have been fleshed out a bit more.

The main plot of the story is the crew planning a heist abroad the Titanic right before it sinks, in order to steal an object. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until they come across Eliot, a mysterious time traveler, who steals the item and will trade it in order to have a spot on the crew.

Eliot, basically serves the Sixth ranger role on the team, and throughout the book there is always a sense of mystery surrounding her character, and you always feel that there is some twist that is about the happen. Once you find out Eliot’s main motivation it actually starts to make sense, and adds a lot to the story.

What made the book great was the concept of time travel. Time travel is always a tricky thing to really pull off, because there are times when it could introduce a lot of plot holes, Ryan Graudin actually provided a good use of time travel through multiverses. I will not go much into detail in case of spoilers, but the idea of multiple universes makes a lot of sense in regards to the story, and sets up a lot of stacks for the story.

Also the world building was really well done as well, especially the world of time travelers. One of my favorite aspects is a clothing store that specializes in different period of clothing when one goes time traveling. So they could get jackets from the 1950s, and dresses from the Victorian era. It also set up rules with time travel in order to not disrupt the timeline.

In the end, Invictus was a really great book that deals with the concept of time travel. Mainly as a Whovian, time travel has always captivated me. The characters make the book such a good read, and I am a little disappointed that it is a stand alone novel, because I could read a series about these characters.

Grade: 4/5

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If & Then Thursday 6/15/2017

Happy Thursday everyone, and here is another If & Then Thursday

If&Then Thursdays is a book meme created by Alex@ Young at Heart Books. How do you participate? It’s easy! All you have to do is choose two books that are somewhat related in theme, writing style, genre, etc. Tell us how they are similar and why we would like them! All recommendations should be made in this format:

“If you like Book A, then you might enjoy Book B”

If you liked:

A great alternative fiction novel, set if Hitler won the war, dealing with a race in order to get close enough to Hitler to kill him.  It also does a good job at seeing a world in which the Axis powers has won.

Than you might like:

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Why: Both books are set within alternative historical settings. While Leviathan has a more steampunk take on World War I, they still give us an exciting historical world to read about. They also both have great female characters in Deryn and Yael, who are both willing to get the job done.

 

Wolf-by-Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Summary: 

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and I, or imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

The Review:

One of the first books of 2017, or started in 2016 and than finished in 2017 so it counts. Also a good that I wanted to finally in 2017, and it didn’t disappoint.

I really like alternative historical fiction because it asks the “What if” questions in history. With this book it is “what if the Axis powers own WWII?” it reminded me a lot of Man in the High Castle, which is a show that I really like as well, which is also set in a world in which the Axis powers won WWII.

Yael, is a great female protagonist in the book. She reminded me a lot of Katniss with a little bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is a go getter who is willing to risk everything in order to achieve her mission which is to kill Hitler. I also like how the use of flashbacks added a lot more to her character and gave her more depth. You really see what she went through before she entered the race. She is also a shape shiftier and could change into any person she wants to, which is why she does the job of entering the race under another name.

The world-building is great, it really does a good job setting up a world in which the Axis powers won, and how it affects the characters of the world. The author did a great job setting up the what if story and providing details. She also did a good job at setting up the race and the rules of the race, and why Yael must enter and win the race. The race scenes in the book was also very engaging and did a good job at keeping the suspense throughout the book, and plot took a lot of twist and turns especially for a very simple plot.

The supporting characters are also great and well developed such as Felix, her “brother” who is also in the race. He is basically Yael’s emotional support and you get a pick at their relationship even though Yael is playing someone else she still tries to have that relationship with Felix. Another is Luka, who is a rival racer. Even though you kinda see where his character is going in terms of arcs, but he was a good character overall and I actually did like their relationship even though at points it was going to be a little predictable.

I also felt if I were to point out a negative it would be mainly the ending and how it ended kinda on a cliff hangar. I know a sequel has already been released, but my problem with the ending was that it had a a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied up and I hope the sequel does that.

In the end, Wolf-by-Wolf does an amazing job with giving us an alternate view of the world in which the Axis powers rule. It had great and engaging characters, with a great story in which you want to see what happens next.

Grade: 4/5